If you think January is the most popular time of year to make a lifestyle change, think again. Every spring, consumers burst through the doors of their local grocer, eager to stock up on fresh, healthy ingredients in the hopes of shedding their winter bulk and welcoming the warmer temperatures.
Spring represents a time of renewal in nature — and the same logic is true when it comes to our diets. It’s not just the threat of bathing suit season that forces us to think critically about the food we put on our plates. Eating with the seasons provides us with a rich and diverse diet, and in the springtime this means moving from heavier, starchy winter foods, to fresh, locally grown produce and lighter fare.
“Now is the healthiest and tastiest time to eat seasonally,” says Sabrina Cellupica, Certified Nutritional Practitioner and Holistic Nutritionist at Nature’s Emporium. “When you eat seasonally, not only are you supporting local farmers, but [the produce] is being picked and served to you at its peak, which also means it’s at its highest nutritional value.”
Cellupica facilitates store tours at all three Nature’s Emporium locations, including its flagship Newmarket store, which provides customers with complimentary nutritional information and healthy eating tips tailored to their dietary needs or restrictions. The produce department is an important stop during the one-hour tour at this time of year, thanks to the abundance of vitamin packed asparagus, antioxidant rich berries, and crops like rhubarb, a springtime favourite high in dietary fibres that aid in digestion.
Nature’s Emporium produce is one hundred per cent organic. And while the organic label often comes with a higher price tag, Cellupica assures her customers that buying Ontario-grown produce that is in season is the most cost-effective way to eat organically, due to the low transportation costs from local producers.
Juice cleanses are also a popular choice for those looking to reset their systems. Christine Hickson, owner of Newmarket-based juicing company Healthy Now, says the spring is a great time to do a juice cleanse because we often rely on heavily processed foods during the winter months, which leads to digestion issues, bloating, and sugar cravings. Her juices contain a whopping three pounds of produce each, packing a powerful (and surprisingly filling) punch that repairs the body on a cellular level.
“You end up eliminating [artificial] sugar cravings because you’re having all of these natural sugars that your body loves,” Hickson says. “You’re flooding your body with the nutrients that it needs.”
Hickson’s clients often find a cleanse helps catapult them into better eating habits overall, eliminating cravings and a few inches from their waistline. “By the time you finish your second day, you’ll feel amazing—everyone says they can’t believe their energy levels,” she says.
For those looking for a little more guidance in their dietary choices, local vendors such as Vince’s Market are on a mission to help customers become informed shoppers. Vince’s ‘Power Up’ program uses labelling to identify healthier grocery options approved by Registered Holistic Nutritionist Danielle Cosentino.
Foods identified under the Power Up program include in-season and locally grown produce, blood sugar friendly foods, minimally processed whole foods and “convenient and realistic foods,” which include Vince’s pre-made meals with wholesome ingredients.
“Calories are not the number one thing to be looking for on the back of a label. It’s about whether or not you can understand the ingredients that are in the food you’re buying,” says Cosentino.
The program allows customers to make informed decisions when they are shopping, which is especially important for busy, growing families who need quick, on-the-go options. “If we help you think critically about one item in your cart, then we’ve made a difference,” she says.
by Nicole Bogart
Vince’s Market, Newmarket and East Gwillimbury